Sunday, November 09, 2014 is already better than it was when Open Season ended

On the eve when is scheduled to go live with the shop-around feature for plans available in 2015, here's a spot of good news about how that feature's already been upgraded. This is a pull-out from something I noticed mid-post, and so buried a bit, late last week.

[Update: 2015 shop-around is live now. As HealthSherpa did during the last open season, its starts with a single prompt for a zip code to draw a user in. While it asks for the same info as last season, it breaks the presentation into several screens, probably help people avoid missing key questions. BUT...the mouseovers are gone! Update post here.]

One complaint often voiced about last year was that important information was not provided in context. For example, when University of Pennsylvania researchers studies the experiences of young,  well-educated users of the site, their first recommendation for improvement was to provide instantly accessible glossary definitions of key insurance terms -- i.e., popup definitions that appear when you mouse over the terms, on the plan price quotes or elsewhere.

The shop-around feature on has remained live (though somewhat difficult to find) during the off-season, for the benefit of people eligible for "special enrollment periods" because they've undergone life-changing events such as job loss or divorce or marriage.  And I'm happy to report that at some point in recent months (or weeks), pop-up definitions have appeared. They work on the screen grab below:

Monthly premium


One enrollee
Premium before tax credit $181/mo
DeductibleThe amount you owe for health care services your health insurance or plan covers before your health insurance or plan begins to pay. For example, if your deductible is $1,000, your plan won't pay anything until you’ve met your $1,000 deductible for covered health care services subject to the deductible. The deductible may not apply to all services.


Per individual
Out-of-pocket MaximumYour expenses for medical care that aren't reimbursed by insurance. Out-of-pocket costs include deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments for covered services plus all costs for services that aren't covered.


Per individual

Note too that there's a contrast -- perhaps in too-small type? -- between the quote monthly premium and the "premium before tax credit."

I hope that that's a sign of things to come, and that there will be other improvements to the site's presentation of information and options. Ditto for the state-run exchanges.

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